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Virgin of Guadalupe stirs controversy in Santa Fe (3794)

3794Entertainment News2001-04-28

Virgin of Guadalupe stirs controversy in Santa Fe

Lesbian artist Alma Lopez stumbled into trouble when her digital photo collage, Our Lady, opened as part of the "Cyber Arte: Where Tradition Meets Technology," an exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art, in Santa Fe, N.M., reports SF Gate. The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe borne aloft by bare-breasted female angels and clad in a two-piece made of flowers drew fire from Archbishop Michael Sheehan of New Mexico, who insisted the work be pulled since it portrayed, as he put it, the religious icon as a "tart." Catholic protesters have been mounting prayer vigils against the artwork. Lopez, who was born in Mexico and is currently based in Los Angeles, says, "Describing the image as a tart...if anything, that is really kind of sick. It's about what's in [the protesters'] hearts and experiences that they would see it as a sexual image necessarily." Lopez intended the image to be a means of relating more personally to an icon that dominated her youth. "The image in Santa Fe," Lopez explains, "is very much about a strong woman standing there with an attitude and wearing flowers. It has nothing to do with sex or sexuality." Our Lady has been shown in California since 1999 and has never drawn this sort of attention. This is not the first time, however, that Lopez has aroused religious ire with one of her creations. Another piece, Heaven 2, which was displayed outside the Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco as part of an ongoing "Digital Mural" project, was defaced with Bible quotes renouncing the "desires of the flesh." The work, done in a digital version of the Mexican retablo style, shows a woman on her deathbed imagining herself and her female lover sitting on a crescent moon holding hands. The exhibit in Santa Fe runs through December.

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